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Don’t write overly broad restrictions into noncompetes

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Noncompete covenants in Texas must be limited to a reasonable geographic area or they aren’t enforceable. Unfortunately for employers, that geographic area is usually fairly small.

Recent case: William Cobb worked as an independent contractor selling advertising for a magazine called Local Life in Johnson County. He agreed not to compete against the publisher for a period of one year. There was no limit on the geographic area.

When Cobb quit and started his own publication in a nearby county, the Local Life publisher sued and won an injunction against Cobb. Cobb appealed.

The appellate court said that the unlimited geographic area was unenforceable and should have been limited to a reasonable area that included just Johnson County. Cobb is now free to publish. (Cobb v. Caye Publishing Group, No. 2-09-426, Court of Appeals of Texas, 2010)

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